Researchers do not know the exact cause of prostate cancer, but have found that men with certain risk factors are more likely to develop the disease. Risk factors to consider include age, family history, race and diet.

Age: In men younger than 45, prostate cancer is rare, but the chance of getting it goes up significantly as they get older. The disease is mainly found in men age 55 over with an average age of 70 at the time of diagnosis.

Family History: A man’s risk of prostate cancer is higher if his brother or father had the disease. A man with one close relative with the disease has double the risk of developing the disease. With two close relatives, his risk is five times higher. With three, the chance is 97%. Risk for developing prostate cancer is two times higher in men whose father or a brother has been diagnosed with cancer. 

Race: Prostate cancer is more common in African American men. African American males have a prostate cancer incidence rate up to 60% higher than white males and double the mortality rate. Prostate cancer is less common in Asian and American Indian men.

Diet: A man’s risk of prostate cancer is greater if he is obese or in danger of developing obesity. Men with a body mass index over 32.5 have about a one-third greater risk of dying from prostate cancer than men who are not obese. Diets high in fat may increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer by increasing testosterone, which stimulates prostate cell growth.

Source: Hambrock T, “Value of 3 Tesla multimodality-directed MR-guided biopsy to detect prostate cancer in high-risk patients after at least two previous negative biopsies”, Proc. RSNA SSK08-01 (2008).